Dates for your diary! Book now for these great TEL workshops.

Desk with laptop, diary, calendar, clock, notebook, newspaper and coffee.

We have a great line-up of new workshops for University of Sussex teaching staff this semester. Whether you want to explore next steps with Canvas, are looking to make the most of Panopto, our new online media platform, or are wondering what might be out there to take your students’ learning experience in a new direction we have something for you.

Doing more with Canvas

When Canvas was introduced at the University of Sussex over 1000 members of staff attended Canvas Fundamentals workshops and lots of you have read our blog posts about the great features in Canvas. As we move into the second year of Canvas, the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team are offering two workshops that will help you make more of the features available in our online study platform.

Collaboration opportunities in Canvas. Thursday 14/11/19, 11.00-12.30.

This hands-on session will introduce some of the ways that Canvas supports students to work together. Participants will explore the Groups function which allows teachers and students to create ‘mini-modules’ to facilitate group work and  Collaborations where students can edit documents together. Book a place on Collaboration opportunities in Canvas.

Quizzes and surveys in Canvas. Friday 6/12/19, 11.00-12.30.

Quizzes and surveys are a great way to give feedback to students on their learning and get feedback from students. Participants in this workshop will explore potential uses for Canvas Quizzes and get started with building a quiz and analysing responses. Book a place on Quizzes and surveys in Canvas.

Other Canvas training and support

We are still running Canvas Fundamentals workshops for new or returning staff and are happy to work with individuals on making the best use of Canvas for their students, so please do contact tel@sussex.ac.uk if you want to discuss options. 

Online media with Panopto

This academic year the university has introduced Panopto as its new online media platform. Many people are now using Panopto to record lectures, but there is much more that you can do with this platform. This semester there are two workshops looking at interesting ways to use Panopto, and as always the TEL team are ready to help individuals explore how they could use Panopto in their teaching – just email us at tel@sussex.ac.uk if you want to discuss options. 

Panopto for Flipped learning. Monday 25/11/19, 10.00-11.00.

Providing online content can be a great way to prepare students for a face-to-face session where problems can be explored and tackled together. Panopto allows for recordings to be made at your desk and for quizzes to be added at key points. This session offers participants the opportunity to learn how this can be used in their teaching practice. Book a place on Panopto for Flipped learning.

Podcasting in teaching: an auditory adventure. Wednesday 6/11/19, 14:00-15:00.

Podcasts are gaining in popularity and are an ideal medium for teaching and learning. Book for this workshop to learn more about podcasts and get started using Panopto and other tools to plan, record, edit and publish a podcast. Book a place on Podcasting in teaching: an auditory adventure.

Exploring further afield

TEL are always on the lookout for interesting ways that technology can facilitate innovative teaching and sharing them with academic colleagues. This semester we have three workshops looking at a range of free options to enhance students’ learning. As well as showing you how to create content with these digital tools, each session will provide an opportunity to consider how they might be useful in your context. 

Flipgrid: video discussions for learning. Wednesday 20/11/19, 13.30-14.30.

Flipgrid is a really fun way for students to share their ideas using short videos. This workshop introduces the free tool which is now part of Office 365 and will get you started creating your own video posts and grids. Book a place on Flipgrid: video discussions for learning.

Teaching games and storytelling with Twine. Tuesday 3/12/19, 10.00-11.30.

Twine lets anyone create learning resources based on scenarios and decision making. This workshop will look at some examples of how this tool could be used and participants will get started creating their own Twine stories/journeys. Book a place on Teaching games and storytelling with Twine.

Make your own Augmented Reality experiences. Tuesday 10/12/19, 14.00-15.30.

If you are interested in Augmented Reality (AR) experiences and the benefits they may offer for learning, but don’t know where to start creating them, then this workshop is for you! Participants will be introduced to some examples and will create their own AR experience. Book a place on Make your own Augmented Reality experiences.

You can read more about all of these workshops on the TEL website. If there is another TEL topic you would like to learn more about please contact tel@sussex.ac.uk.

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Posted in Professional Development

TEL:US Podcast – Digital Discovery Week Preview with Beth Logan

TEL:US Podcast logo.

In this show Dan caught up with Beth Logan from the Library to discuss next week’s Digital Discovery Week. Find out abut the week, the highlights and how you can get involved.

Links:

Digital Discovery Week schedule and booking: 

https://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/about/digital

Beth Logan: https://twitter.com/Hey_Bethany

Dan Axson: https://twitter.com/danaxson

Library

Web: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/library

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sussexlibrary

IT Services

Web: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/its 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ITServices

Careers and Employability Centre

Web: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/careers/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SussxUniCareers

Technology Enhanced Learning

Web: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/tel 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SussexTEL

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Posted in Podcast, Uncategorized

Flipgrid: video discussions for learning.

Flipgrid logo

Learning is a social activity and anything that helps build a sense of community amongst learners is valuable. Online discussion forums are one way to do this, but if you and your students like to use video, then Flipgrid could be the thing for you. This app review looks at Flipgrid and how it could be useful to teachers and students.

What is Flipgrid and what does it do?

Flipgrid is a video discussion platform that allows users to post short video responses, either to a prompt or question or as an ‘idea’. By default, videos are a maximum of 90 seconds long, but this can be increased to up to 5 minutes. The intention is to develop a sense of community and social learning.

A teacher can create a ‘grid’ which can be thought of as like a forum, within which there can be multiple topics (like discussions or threads). Each grid begins with 2 auto-generated topics – ‘ideas’ and ‘introductions’ but these can be hidden or deleted as required and new topics added.

A range of resources can be added at the start of a topic, including a recorded or uploaded video, a YouTube or Vimeo link, an image, GIF or emoji.

screenshot of options in Flipgrid: Record a video; Upload a video; Add a YouTube or Vimeo video; Upload an image; Add a Giphy; Add an Emoji.

Students post their own videos in response and teachers can provide text feedback  or comments on students’ videos.

When creating a grid a teacher can define who has access and how – if you choose ‘School Email’ students will need to log in with their Sussex credentials. Flipgrid can also be integrated into Canvas (see below).

How accessible is Flipgrid?

Flipgrid are making their platform as accessible as possible. It can be used without a mouse (see these keyboard shortcuts), has options for different font sizes and works with screen-readers. There are further updates planned for later this year. As always, you will need to consider the needs of your particular students when deciding whether or not to use Flipgrid.

Closed captions and transcripts. 

You can add automatic captions to videos in Flipgrid. Once the option is turned on in the settings for a grid, any new videos added to that grid will include closed captions. As with all auto-captioning systems the results can be variable. Best results are obtained when speaking clearly with minimal background noise. At the time of writing it is not possible to edit captions but teachers can download transcripts and should soon be able to edit captions.

Five ideas for using Flipgrid for teaching and learning

Discussions. The most obvious way to use Flipgrid is as a discussion, with the added benefits of video. The tips in ‘5 ways to make online discussions work in your teaching’ would work equally well with video discussions in Flipgrid.

Presentation skills. Students could develop their presentation skills by contributing short videos in which they explain a concept, define a term or report on an activity.

Languages. The ‘conversational’ nature of the topics in Flipgrid lend themselves to students practicing their language learning amongst themselves. It is possible to set the auto-captioning to a different language so the video discussions could be held in the target language. 

In-class group work. When small groups are working on a question together they could be asked to add their conclusions as a video in Flipgrid instead or as well as ‘reporting back’ during the session.

Flipping with Flipgrid. A lecturer could post a 3-4 minute video and encourage students to respond with questions, comments and ideas ahead of a face-to-face session. See our previous post on ‘Tips to flip’ for more on flipped learning.

Is Flipgrid free?

Flipgrid is now part of Office 365 so you can login for free using your University of Sussex username and password by choosing ‘Log in with Microsoft’. 

screenshot of login screen showing Educators tab and Log in with Microsoft button.

Will Flipgrid work on my devices?

Flipgrid is web-based so will work with most modern web browsers. There is more information about minimum device requirements on the Flipgrid help pages.

There are mobile apps for iOS and Android, but these do not provide all the functionality of the web version. For example, the Android app only allows student interactions – teachers cannot create grids on Android.

Can it be integrated into Canvas?

There are several ways that Flipgrid can be added into a Canvas module.

  • As a link. Each grid can be shared by its URL, so this can be added as an item in a Canvas unit or as a link in a page.
  • Embedded in a Page. Using the embed code from Flipgrid and the Insert/edit media option in the Canvas page you can display a grid in a page.
Screenshot showing the sharing options: Flip Code; URL to copy; Copy Embed Code button.
  • With the Flipgrid Canvas App. If you are going to be using Flipgrid throughout a module you may want to add the app to the module so that Flipgrid appears as an item in the module menu. You can then connect a grid. 

Please contact tel@sussex.ac.uk if you would like to discuss these options or want any help setting up Flipgrid in Canvas.

Alternatives

There are a few other similar platforms, but they do not have all the same functionality.

  • Canvas discussions. Students can post videos to discussions in Canvas which can approximate a video discussion.
  • Vialogues offers time-stamped text comments and polls.
  • Vizia is more for teaching than discussion. Teachers can add add polls, quizzes, open ended questions and ‘calls to action’ to specific points in a video. See ‘Add interaction to videos with Vizia’ for more information.

Resources

Please contact tel@sussex.ac.uk if you would like to discuss Flipgrid or other learning technologies to use in teaching at Sussex.

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Posted in App review

Outdoor learning: Introducing the Twalk, Twitter in the wild

Lectures and seminars are the staple of higher education teaching and learning. Seminars are usually the dedicated teaching space for students to engage in discussions and activities that relate to the topics introduced in lectures. In doing so they generate contextual and personal knowledge of the lecture topics.  Tutors cite low student participation in seminar activities as a problem to their learning. Where there is seminar participation it is often by the same confident students. Different theories have been given such as the rise in grade culture, social media use and increased numbers of non-native English speakers in the classroom.

In face of this, new and innovative methods to engage students in seminar discussions are being trialled. Think, pair, share techniques are increasingly considered a necessity to entice shy students to speak in front of the whole class. Technologies such as classroom response systems are being used to make anonymous participation possible. And now alternatives to the classroom space are being explored to elicit more discussion.

Outdoor learning

It has been found that when we walk we are more willing to be open and be expressive even with relative strangers (Bälter, Tobiasson and Toivanen 2018). Consequently, some tutors are moving their sedentary seminars outside where they’ve found that, not only do students talk to each other, they talk on the topics that they have asked them to.

Different formulae have been trialled for the seminar method. The key to its success is to allow students’ to capture what has been discussed. In order to do so, tutors have been using Twitter to engage the students in a tweetchat. This method has been called a ‘twalk’, which in an educational setting is a structured walk with multiple stop-off points where students engage in ‘generative’ discussions and respond to questions that they receive via Twitter. Andrew Middleton from Anglia Ruskin recommends that a twalk should last an hour, with five land-based discussions, with different question prompts every ten minutes.

Twalking at the University of Sussex

At the Pedagogic Revolution event in September colleagues were invited to reflect on our university values and share ideas to inform the development of an Education Manifesto – a set of principles that reflect the distinctive features of a Sussex education and which will shape our curricula in the future. At the event, Dr Wendy Garnham and I led an outdoor learning session. Wendy presented the theory about outdoor learning and how it can benefit student engagement. We then divided the participants into two groups and gave them a topic to discuss as they walked to a designated ‘pause place’, which were areas of natural beauty around the Sussex campus (not hard to find!). Once there, the participants had a moment to tweet their responses to the question, before we tweeted our next question to discuss on their way to the next ‘pause place’. And so it continued until we met back in the seminar room to wrap up the session.

It was clear from the session that walking really did generate discussion and many ideas emerged. Conversation flowed and was all topic-related. Furthermore, it was an enjoyable and stress free experience where all contributed.

Some considerations when using outdoor learning

Using Twitter for outdoor learning seminars has advantages and disadvantages. Twitter is open to the world which allows anyone, anywhere to see tweets and potentially respond.  It opens up the possibility of doing cross-institutional seminars where students at different institutions can share experiences. The use of Twitter by students to engage in their studies has been shown to help them feel part of their discipline. Research by Malik et al led them to claim, ‘Twitter has the potential to enhance students’ learning capabilities as well as improve their motivation and engagement.’ However, Twitter can never be an institutional tool and as such  interactions in Twitter are out of University control. Other mobile friendly tools could be used to ask the same questions such as Poll Everywhere.

Further considerations are the accessibility of walks. Some may not be able to attend if the walk takes them to places they cannot get to. Here we recommend two options. One, the students decide their own routes so they can ensure they can do it. Two, the walk can be optional and some students may choose to stay behind and answer (and pose) questions from the seminar room.

Join us to give it a try

Our next outdoor learning session will be on the 8th November, jointly hosted by Technology Enhanced Learning and the Active Learning Network as part of  Digital Discovery Week. We hope to introduce identification software to the mix so on the walk participants use phone apps to identify plants, insects and birds.

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Posted in Active learning

Smarter study – 5 great apps for students

As the new academic year is now well underway, we thought that it would be worthwhile updating our ‘Smarter study – 5 essential apps for students’ post. With a new online learning platform and a host of new educational and a host of new educational and organisation apps now available, here is our updated list of essential apps for students.

An aerial view of a desk with a laptop in the centre surrounded by a stack of books, a lamp, keys, a phone, a pen and a notebook.

Each app is available on both iOS and Android devices as well as in web browsers meaning whatever device you use, you’ll be able to make the most of these helpful tools. As always we have aimed to keep this post student friendly so all of the apps listed below are either free or are licensed for students by the university.

1. Canvas Student app

Canvas iconFirst up on our list, and a new addition, is the Canvas Student app. This app is definitely an essential and will give you quick and easy access to your module content as well as an overview of what assessments you have coming up and your feedback. You can also participate in activities such as Discussions and Quizzes and view the latest announcements from your tutors.

The Canvas Student app is available to download for free on both iOS and Android. If you want to know how to do anything within the Canvas Student app take a look a the Canvas Community Mobile guides or contact Canvas Help.

2. SussexMobile

UoS app iconSussexMobile is the University of Sussex app which gives you easy access to your email and course timetables as well as details of library loans, reservations and other useful information such as the University’s Skills Hub. The app also allow you to set alerts for important news about the University, such as details of campus closures or urgent announcements. To find out more about the various features of the SussexMobile app visit IT Services SussexMobile page.

SussexMobile is available on iOS and Android and can also be accessed via www.sussex.ac.uk/mobile.

3. Office 365

Office iconNumber three is not strictly an app but a whole suite of apps. Office 365 is free for you to access as a University of Sussex student and includes mobile apps for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Lync. Using the Office apps allows you to sync all of your work across your devices so you can start your work on your laptop and then pick it up again on your phone or tablet at a later date. Office 365 apps also let you collaborate on documents with your peers;  you could for example use PowerPoint Online to complete a group presentation. This will allow you to all work within the one document, helping you to organise your work and avoid multiple documents being sent between your group. Office 365 also features OneDrive where Sussex students have 1TB of storage.

To learn more about Office 365 and how to sign in visit the IT Services website. These apps are available on iOS and Android. You are able to install the desktop versions of Office on up to five devices and the mobile versions on a further five mobile devices.

4. Evernote

Evernote iconEvernote is a cloud-based note-making app that uses notebooks and tagging to organise your content. You can use text notes, images and photos, record audio, upload files or scanned documents (see Office Lens or Adobe Scan), and clip parts of or whole web pages.

It is also possible to create to-do lists to help you organise yourself and to share your notes with other users. The Evernote system of tags, notes, notebooks and stacks can be adapted to the way you like to work. Again, as Evernote is cloud-based, your notes are synced and with a free account you can use 2 devices and the web to  access them from almost anywhere.

Have a look at this quick overview of how to get the most out of Evernote and these 5 Tips to Use Evernote For Academic Achievement for more information and ideas.

The Evernote mobile app is available for free on iOS, Android and Windows. If you are already using Office 365 you may want to also take a look at OneNote, a Microsoft alternative to Evernote.

5. Trello

Trello iconTrello is a productivity tool that you can use to help organise your studies and personal life. Trello displays your tasks as cards on a board (or multiple boards). You can attach items such as a description, files, checklists and labels to add further information about your task. You can also link third party tools such as Google Drive and OneDrive to allow you to attach documents that you are currently working on.

As with a number of the tools above, Trello allows you to share your cards and board with other users so that you can collaborate on shared tasks and keep track of projects. Trello is available to download on iOS and Android.

Bonus app for first year students

First year students at the University of Sussex also have access to the Enlitened app, a tool that the University is using to gather feedback from students. Download the app, answer questions about the University to help improve services for students and collect points which can be redeemed for rewards.Enlitened icon

Take a look at the Technology Enhanced Learning A-Z of Apps for other useful study and productivity tools.

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Posted in Apps and tools

Twine: A choose your own teaching adventure

The ‘human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.’ Jonathan Haidt
Signpost against a sunset

Two of the most important areas in people’s lives are stories and agency, some would argue they are in fact integral to our nature, we communicate with others through story and the only way to define yourself as alive as opposed to being a mindless automaton is by your agency and the fact that you have the option to choose, to express your free will.

How do we define what a story is? It is a series of connected representations of experiences placed together to form a narrative. For an example look at how you make sense of your life, and how you would explain a day in your life to others. You would use your memories to do this, you would turn your experiences of the day into a narrative. That was your day, that was your story. 

Stories and memories have an important role to play in teaching and learning as studies have found that narrative information is retained to a much greater degree than purely factual non-narrative information (see for example ‘The science of telling stories: Evaluating science communication via narratives’). When narrative is employed, studies have found that university students are more engaged, more comfortable and more willing to learn. So wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool that allowed you to create narratives for students which they could experience and learn from? There is such a tool and it’s called Twine. 

What is Twine?

Twine is a free open source tool for crafting choice-based narratives, using elements of constructivist and experiential learning. Twine can be accessed from any web browser, and it has an intuitive user interface which enables the quick creation of teaching resources. These resources can be shared as an HTML web page which can be embedded within platforms such as Padlet or VLEs such as Canvas.

A Twine story is made up of a number of ‘passages’, a passage in Twine is simply a page containing text, images, videos or other multimedia content. These passages are then linked together by various choices. When the player makes a choice they will be taken to the relevant passage. In this way large branching narratives can be easily created. Please see this example Twine Pete’s Tea Odyssey

Example Twine being played through, the text of the Twine is:” It's another brand new day, Pete’s woken up and he'll start today as he starts everyday, by having a lovely cup of tea made by a random stranger, but how to make the perfect cup of tea for Pete?

To start with Pete boils the kettle and then gets out his favourite mug and some milk and places them in front of you, but what comes next? 
Add the milk?
Pour the water in first?
Investigate the room?
An extract from Pete’s Tea Odyssey (example Twine)

Why would you use Twine in your teaching?

Twine allows you to give your students the experience of working through a scenario and applying their learning. They make decisions and take actions based on the situation and then see the results and learn from their choices. Twine allows learners to make these decisions within a safe environment. 

I hope this blog post has got you thinking about the power of narratives and how that can be applied to the teaching and learning experience. If any of this seems interesting to you and you’d like to use Twine within your classroom please contact  tel@sussex.ac.uk for advice and support. 

Further reading and resources

  • Twine Wiki – The official Twine full of guidance and advice on using Twine.
  • TEL Twine guide – A short guide created by TEL which features a step by step walkthrough of setting up your first Twine.
  • Pete’s Tea Odyssey  – An example of a Twine.
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Posted in Learning Design

Three Tools for Learning Analytics

As teachers it would be great to be able to predict as early as possible, which students are going to require more support, to get accurate feedback on what a cohort has grasped and to adapt teaching to better meet individual students’ needs. The user information gained from systems such as Canvas and Panopto can provide an insight into answering these questions. Use of student data in education is often given the title Learning Analytics.

In this post, I’ll explore three sources of learning data available to teaching staff at the University of Sussex.

  1. Canvas Analytics Beta 
  2. Canvas Quizzes
  3. Panopto

Canvas Analytics Beta

Note: Access to Canvas Analytics Beta has been temporarily suspended prior to it’s official release on 19th October.

As is clear from its name, Canvas Analytics Beta is still relatively early in its development, however, while limited, this tool can still provide some useful information for teaching staff. 

You can add the analytics tool to your module by going to Settings > Navigation, then dragging Analytics Beta up into your module navigation (it will not be visible to students). 

The tool has two main views: Course Grade which provides data on activities such as quizzes or assignments, which are linked to the grade book and Weekly Online Activity which gives more general data on views of pages and resources. Options to filter and drill down into this data are not currently available. You can, however, download the data for analysis in software such as Excel.

A line chart showing the average page views for a Canvas module during the course of a two month period.
A graph showing weekly activity on a Canvas module

At present, most may find the latter view most useful, giving you a quick idea of how much activity there is on a module. 

Scroll down to the table below and you can quickly get an idea of who is actively viewing course information (and who is not).

The Course Grades view for most will show only one or two contributory assignments so may be of limited value. If you incorporate additional, formative online activities, spaced throughout the term which feed into the gradebook, this can become more useful.

This brings us neatly onto our next topic.

Canvas Quizzes

Quizzes can be a really useful way to check student progress throughout a module. The quiz tool in Canvas provides teaching staff with rich information on student responses. You can read more about how to use quizzes in our previous post: Canvas highlights 1: Quizzes and in the Canvas guide to quizzes

You can access response data by clicking through to a quiz. A link to Quiz Statistics can be found under ‘related items’ in the top right corner of the screen. Here Canvas provides a summary of scores for each quiz and a breakdown by question. Using this it is easy to identify areas of concern for a post-lecture revision quiz.

The discrimination index listed by each question helps to highlight questions which draw different responses from those who score highly overall to those with lower scores. A low discrimination index on a question that many students get wrong could indicate a gap in the teaching (or an error in the question).  

For individual student responses select the link to Moderate this quiz. There you can review each student’s responses, though this is listed by candidate number so you won’t be able to identify individuals by name.

Panopto

Our new media platform provides rich data on student engagement with videos. This can be either per video or aggregated for all video in a module.

Creators can access the Panopto statistics dashboard from a module by selecting Panopto Recordings from the navigation menu. Module folder statistics can be found via the bar chart icon, top right. Alternatively, hover over an individual video and select Stats to view the data for your chosen video. This will show how many views there have been by date and how much of the videos students have watched.

A neat feature of Panopto is the ability to search by keyword and skip to a specific point in a video. Usefully, the stats dashboard includes a chart which shows which parts of a video students have viewed. This may help to indicate if students have missed important information.

Bar chart showing number of views of a Panopto video by date, followed by a second line chart showing how the number of views/viewers varies during the course of the video.
Statistics in Panopto. See how often and which parts of your videos students are watching. 

Find out more

This is just a short introduction to some of the tools available. We’d be interested to hear how you are using data in Canvas and other online tools to improve your teaching. If you are interested in learning more about these tools please do get in touch with us at tel@sussex.ac.uk.

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Posted in Canvas, Learning Design

5 steps to using tech for presentations

Graphic of the 5 steps:
Step 1: Get organised.
Step 2: Collect resources.
Step 3: Choose a tool.
Step 4: Add images.
Step 5: Check accessibility

Giving presentations is as much a part of academics’ lives as it is their students’. Whether presenting at a conference or in an undergraduate seminar, there are similar issues to bear in mind and digital tools to help.

Step 1. Get organised

Whether you are creating your presentation alone or as part of a group it is a good idea to have a way of keeping track of the various tasks and stages involved. There are several good task management apps that are free, easy to use, and allow you to allocate tasks to individuals.

The Technology Enhanced Learning team are great fans of Trello. You can share a board with a team, attach documents, add links and due dates. Read more about Trello in ‘The organisational tools I rely on’. Other apps worth looking at are Any.do and Meistertask. All of these work via a web browser and have iOS and Android apps so you can keep track of what’s happening with your project on mobile devices.

Step 2. Collect resources and ideas

Before you start creating your presentation you will want to gather your ideas and materials and those are likely to be a combination of digital materials and paper-based resources. There are several digital tools that will allow you to collect, sort and search your materials.

Step 3. Choose a presentation tool

When we think of a presentation we might automatically think of PowerPoint. This well-established tool has its detractors, but generally the faults lie in the way the tool has been used. As long as your presentation is well planned and clearly presented, PowerPoint remains a great option. Here are some alternatives you might want to consider:

  • Google Slides is similar to PowerPoint and has some great collaboration and editing functions.
  • SMARTboards. If you are presenting in one of the teaching rooms at the University of Sussex where a SMARTboard is installed you can use the Smart Notebook software to prepare a presentation.
  • Infographics. Sometimes data is best presented as a poster, in which case you might want to look at infographic authoring tools such as Piktochart or Canva.

Our post on 5 Top Tips for creating inclusive presentations looked at a range of presentation tools and how accessible they are.

classroom with students and presenter

Step 4: Add images

Images can add a lot to a presentation – as the adage goes: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. There is some confusion around which online images you can use in your work, but don’t forget that images are born copyrighted just as written work is, so you cannot use all images found online. To find images that you can use in your presentation try:

  • Creative Commons. A lot of people apply Creative Commons licences to their work so that others can use them. Many of the images found via a search for reusable images will be licensed using one of the Creative Commons licences. You can learn more about the licences in our post Understanding Creative Commons Licences and  this resource on how to properly attribute images. You can search for free content in the public domain and under Creative Commons licenses at search.creativecommons.org/
  • Google. Search for images using the ‘usage rights’ filter to see images that are labeled for reuse. 
  • Public domain and other licences. A number of sites bring together collections of images which can be used without attribution. These usually use the CC0 Public Domain licence or a company’s own licences. The best places to find these are:

Step 5: Check that your presentation is accessible

It has always been good practice to make your presentations accessible to all, but new accessibility requirements for public sector bodies mean that this is now essential for digital resources. Although presentations often happen first in a face-to-face setting, slides are usually shared online so it is important that they work well for everyone. The TEL team have created some great resources and guidance on the Digital Accessibility web pages which will take you through creating accessible materials, checking existing documents, finding out about assistive technologies and learning more about specific accessibility needs. In terms of presentations, it is important to:

  • Choose a presentation tool that will help you make your slides accessible, such as PowerPoint or Google Slides. Some newer tools such as Prezi, Haiku Deck and Adobe Spark offer some exciting visual features, but do not always have the accessibility options that are required. 
  • Use an accessible theme and predefined layouts. PowerPoint and Google Slides both have a range of themes that will create easy to read slides and make it easier for you to make your slides accessible.
  • Add alternative text to images. If you have images which convey meaning then it is important to provide the ‘alternative text’ that will allow people using screen readers to understand what is in the image. PowerPoint and Google Slides both allow you to add alternative text to images easily.
  • Make sure the content is in the right order. When there are several elements on a slide screen readers will usually read them in the order you added them, rather than in the order that makes sense, but you can check and reorder elements.

You can read more about this in 5 Top Tips for creating inclusive presentations which includes step-by-step guidance.

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Posted in digital skills, Learning Design

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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